Writing Styles and Writing with Style

When I began this blog post I knew I needed to do some research. I believed writing styles fell into such categories as Gothic and Poetic and Flowery. My own style of writing is often compared to Hemingway’s though I don’t particularly care for the man’s writing style. I prefer the writing styles of the classics. Though Hemingway is a classic I have to admit.

So, let’s begin this where my research first took me. A place requiring the answer to a simple question. What’s the difference between commercial fiction and literary fiction?

Commercial fiction – I have read many definitions for this style of fiction writing. Simply put, it is fiction writing for fun and profit. All of my authors fall into this category of writing. In fact, commercial fiction is listed as a genre of writing. Who knew?

Literary fiction – It’s snobby first cousin. That’s the best I can do. Literary fiction is classified as more sophisticated than commercial fiction. There is of course far more to it, but I believe in brevity of definitions. So, I will stick with snobby.

There are so many more styles and genres. There is even a book genre dictionary online if you are interested. Here’s the link: Book Genres – List of Book Genres and Book Genre Dictionary (book-genres.com).

Now why did I start this off with definitions of fiction? And why didn’t I include the others? Simply put, when I began this thinking, I was looking for writing styles. It led me to think more about what style of writing I find myself publishing. Is it literary, commercial, mainstream? Do we publish Contemporary, Drama, Modern? The list goes on. However, what genre you write in often describes your writing style.

For instance, those who are considered literary authors possess a style where they use flowery or poetic vocabulary. They write in longer, complex sentences. Use intricate themes and focus on the intellectual side of writing. Even when they are appealing to your emotions, this style of writing lends itself to intellectual pursuits.

As my journey into writing styles continued, I moved on from the genres of commercially appealing or intellectual writing. Moved off such lists as modern and contemporary. Instead, I found myself faced with what the industry considers the four writing styles that all writing falls into. These four styles are:

1. Expository – Fact based writing. Think collegiate thesis papers or journalism. Old school journalism, not today’s brand.

2. Descriptive – This was where I believed most fiction writing fell under. However, I was wrong. Descriptive writing is mostly classified as poetic or poetry itself. Or nature writing. Anything which requires rich, in-depth descriptions.

3. Persuasive writing. I think copywriting on this one. People who use writing to sell you something. Speech writing, grant writing, ad copy, resumes, etc. Anything which makes you think the way the writer wants you to. 

4. Narrative. This is where fiction writing falls under. It tells a story.

Imagine my dismay when I stumbled upon this as the classification of writing styles. It was nowhere near what I was expecting, however, it has helped define the needs of certain projects we are undertaking here at The Pyrateheart Press. The style of writing determines the style of writing if you follow my meaning.

And yet, as my research continued, I still hadn’t found what I was looking for. I was ardently looking for a list or definitions of such styles as Hemingway, Dumas, Joyce, Rowling, Twain, Cooper, L’Amour. Each of these writers use their own particular style. As does King, Shelley, Christie, Thompson.

I have looked because I have been swamped with experts who want writing to follow a hard set of rules. Rules I don’t follow for the most part. See, I don’t like to be put into a box and told to stay there. My own style of writing is brusque. Harsh. It reflects my life. As does the writings of others. Each a product of their own environment. Something I have learned to appreciate. Take my latest blogpost on Lavender Mills.

Lavender is an excellent writer. However, when we worked together, my own style overpowered her own. She is an introvert and often has trouble stating her own opinions or feelings. I am a bully at times. I had to learn to let go and step aside so Lavender could create the book Millie in her own style.

When it comes to style, I must repeat this: we are a product of our times and environment. Our writing reflects this and should. I don’t want to read the same style of writing when I pick up a book. I don’t want all thrillers to sound like Dan Brown or horror to be a remake of Stephen King or find I must write fantasy in the manner George R. R. Martin crafted The Game of Thrones. I want to see the world through the eyes of the author as they take me on a journey they have created.

Writing styles are personal. I like that. I like the variety of richness writing styles carve into the world. How they expose us to a way of life we might have missed. The way an author uses prose, dialogue, sentences, adjectives and yes, as the dreaded adverb pulls us into their story.

All this leaves me what a singular piece of advice for anyone who writes. Write as you are. Write from your heart and your soul. Carve out your own style. Create your own niche. Write as you want: unfettered, uncensored, free. Don’t worry about anything. Simply write. The rest can be taken care of in editing. Especially those damn adverbs.

I’m Ross, The Editor-in-chief at The Pyrateheart Press and I’m out.

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